Customer Reviews for

Beautiful Malice

Average Rating 3.5
( 40 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 15 review with 4 star rating   See All Ratings
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  • Posted June 20, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    odd exciting psychological thriller

    During lunch at a Sydney high school, popular Alice Parrie invites a stunned bookworm Katherine to attend her eighteenth birthday bash. Alice explains it was the way Katherine ripped the skin off Dan Johnson for being nasty and little when a nervous woman gave a talk about the future.

    Four years plus since the party that changed her life and her surname, Katherine prays no one learns just who single mom Katherine Boydell raising Sarah was once. The tragedy of Alice is too mindful of the tragedies of Katherine's murdered sister Rachel and Sarah's father Mick; as the flamboyant teen drew out the dark secrets of her reticent new BFF. Thus then pregnant Katherine Boydell nee Patterson failed to attend Alice's funeral; she believes Aunt Philippa is at her side encouraging her to move passed the lingering grief she feels.

    This is an odd exciting psychological thriller starting with the opening stunning hook "I didn't go to Alice's funeral. I was pregnant at the time, crazy and wild with grief". From that moment readers will want to know who Katherine is and what did happen to all those in her sphere who died. Rotating between the present and four years ago, readers who appreciate a character driven thriller with limited action will want to know what happened to Katherine four years ago.

    Harriet Klausner

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 24, 2010

    Never make the mayor of crazytown your bff!

    I don't know that it's meant to be read this way, but Beautiful Malice was a great mystery. The entire story is told in flashbacks. Katherine, an adult with a young daughter, is looking back on her senior year of high school when she met and knew Alice. Eventually her teenage self is remembering and telling Alice about the events leading up to Rachel's death. In both scenarios, the reader should, on some level, know how the story ends: Katherine grows up and has a child; Rachel dies. And yet, I never felt impatient waiting for that end to come. In fact, there were plenty of points in the senior year storyline when I was sure that things could not possibly end the way adult Katherine seemed to imply that they would. Moreover, when the endings finally did come they were plenty twisted, making them surprising even if they really do amount to Katherine growing up and having a child and Rachel dying.

    The bulk of the story is set during Katherine's senior year of high school, specifically when she is befriended by Alice. Katherine is Katherine, rather than Katie, because she is trying to move on in her life past Rachel's death, but it is still a big part of her. It takes a really long time for Katherine to open up to anyone, including the reader, about what happened to Rachel, and yet I wasn't annoyed by not knowing. From almost the beginning, I knew Katherine was dealing with some serious survivor guilt, but as her recollections of Rachel slowly unfolded, it became clear that her guilt went beyond just the guilt of still being alive. Katherine feels truly responsible for Rachel's death, and because her story of what really happened the night Rachel died is so drawn out, it looks like she just might be. She's dealing with all of this while she slowly gets sucked into Alice's world.

    Alice, by the way, is the mayor of crazytown. She's fun-crazy in the beginning, always managing to have alcohol and a party to go to (and an awesome dress to wear to it, and one for you to borrow besides). She lives in an apartment of her own, paid for by her birth mother who feels guilty that Alice was adopted by hicks. She seems so grown-up and exotic to Katherine, who used to be a more suburban version of her. Alice drags Katherine back into the social scene she should have always inhabited, introduces her to new people and experiences, gains her complete trust and (for a while) adoration, and then goes crazy-crazy. When Katherine stops worshiping the ground Alice walks on and gets her own friends, Alice becomes possessive and stalker-y. It's pretty scary, and the lengths she goes to (and why) left me speechless.

    I think Beautiful Malice will be devoured by readers looking for more thriller in their mysteries, but be warned that though Alice and Katherine are teenagers for most of the story, they have very few "typical" teen experiences. They're never in school, they hang out in bars, and they date grown men. I'm not saying that this book is inappropriate, because really, there's nothing graphic or too "adult" going on, but it's certainly not set in high school, even if the main characters are technically high schoolers.

    Book source: Review copy from the publisher through the LibraryThing Early Reviewers program.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 10, 2010

    Friends and Frenemies

    From my book review website Reader's Enchantment (

    I really enjoyed Beautiful Malice. I found Rebecca James's writing to be authentic, especially when it comes to teenage friendships and the newly termed "frenemy." This story begins with a haunting phrase ("I didn't go to Alice's funereal.") and moves on from there back and forth through time. In alternating chapters of the present, the distant past and the time Katherine spends with Alice, the reader begins to slowly understand that something is not quite right with Katherine, that she has secrets and no one suspects her true story.

    Katherine Patterson is a senior in high school, and she's new at her school, without many friends. So she's surprised when popular Alice invites her to a party and persuades the reluctant girl to attend. Alice introduces Katherine to her boyfriend Robbie, and together the three of them form a friendship and spend a lot of time together. Alice has some moments of incredible cruelty, but both Katherine and Robbie brush them aside when "sweet" Alice pleads for forgiveness time and again.

    Katherine eventually reveals her secret: she was once Katie Boydell, the girl who had a sister and was involved in a devastating crime that was splattered over the media. She changed her name and moved to a new city so she could have a chance at a normal senior year of high school.

    Through Alice, meets several other new friends, and these friends come to her aid when Alice suddenly turns on Katherine. Alice will not let their friendship die away; instead, she begins to stalk Katherine and confronts her in public places. Alice's behavior grows increasingly erratic, and while most would call the police for help, Katherine simply feels sorry for Alice and walks away from her every time.

    The eventual outcome is, for me, unexpected and deeply sad. There is so much heartbreak from a heinous crime, and the different possibilities of how a person moves on with their lives is illustrated well by the author. The characters are well written and their interaction is authentic. Because the author is Australian, I was afraid the setting would be too unfamiliar for me to connect with; instead, she writes a story that could happen anywhere.

    I'm not crazy about the cover of the book. There are some really awesome covers of books coming out in the next couple of months, and I don't think "Beautiful Malice" will be able to stand out in a bookstore.

    My only complaint about the novel is that the characters are still in high school. Katherine is only 17, and the birthday party Alice invited her to was to celebrate turning 18. I feel the maturity of the characters and their actions would have been more believable if they had all been in college, in their early 20s. However, I know that in Katherine's case, living through a tragedy can "age" anyone, so this is a very minor complaint.

    Overall, I think this is a very good book, one I rated as 4.5 out of 5 stars. I highly recommend this book to YA readers who may need a break from all the heavily published paranormal titles. This would also be a good book for readers in college since the characters are so mature, it won't have a feel of returning to the high school scene they just graduated from. Look for it in store July 13, 2010.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 26, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Could Not Put It Down!

    I couldn't put this book down! I had to keep reading this story grabs you from the first line and doesn't let you go!
    The Characters are great and the writing truly makes you feel their pain and happiness. I did figure Alice out early on but it didn't stop me from being enthralled in this book and its characters. Alice will keep you guessing you know from the beginning that something awful is going to happen with her and that adds to the tension of the book. Our protagonist is Katherine and she is dealing with the death of her sister and is trying to figure out how to live with the grief and guilt of the whole situation. She is a character full of raw emotion and I felt for her the whole way through. The supporting cast is also great you feel for Robbie and yell at him to run away run away. But I've seen people in situations like this who stay with people who treat them bad and keep going back for more so for me it was very true to life.

    I enjoyed the ending and was glad it worked out that way after everything these characters had been through.
    This is a great psychological thriller I would recommend to Young Adults and Adults alike!

    4 1/2 Stars

    Full Disclosure- I received this book through Librarything Early Reviewers Program-Thank-You!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 17, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    You will not put this down!

    What an absolutely fantastic read! I was lucky enough to win this book through early reviewers and when I opened it I could not put it down! I normally have two or three books going at once, but this one took precedence until I was able to finish it!
    In Beautiful Malice, you think Katherine has suffered enough by losing her younger sister---but fate had much more in store for her. The story was mesmerizing!! You learn the events by flashing between the horrible night of Rachel's death, the current day events of Katherine, and the main story that explains the connection of the two. There is even an unbelievable twist thrown in to just push you over the edge!
    Congratulations to Rebecca James on what is certainly an unforgettable story! I will keep her name in my memory for future works

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 6, 2012

    Caustic and scary..

    I was not sure what to expect. But the fullness of character for both Alice and Katherine was sublime. Enough for me to enjoy as was given. But the shock, guilt and eventual awakening by all, after the twists and turns provided by Alice, kept me hooked. I knew something would happen but didn't expect the twisted demise. It was perfect, really.

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  • Posted November 18, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Emotional Rollar Coaster

    Great book, couldn't put it down, has some tough emotional parts but a really amazing and interesting book. keeps your attention and keeps you guess. definently makes you think about it.

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